literature on the uses of Web 2.0 tools, my goal was to look
for ways that these tools are being integrated into the classroom
and to find learn what experienced educators have learned about
the pros and cons of using blogs, wikis and other tools.
thread in the literature is that students find the new technology
exciting and that educators should build on this interest. Hauser
(2007), an information media consultant, believes that Using
Web 2.0 tools “can make … learning more interesting
for students.” She shares that they create an “environment
filled with opportunities to not only create content in new
ways but also to share information, communicate differently,
collaborate easily with the rest of the world, and self-publish.”
Acknowledging that students are already eagerly using many of
the tools, she encourages media personnel, which I would generalize
to all educators, to familiarize themselves the tools, collaborate
with colleagues, implement projects and share information with
staff, students and parents.
educators instruction on blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, podcasts and
social networking, tools that can enhance the curriculum while
fulfilling educational requirements. She shares some of the
free tools available for education and recommends that educators
try out the individual blogs themselves. This was very helpful
to me in deciding which tools to evaluate for my own inquiry.
One of the best sources of new information is the experiences
of other educators.
writes about how the Web 2.0 is motivating students who in the
past would not participate in discussion. She describes the
experiences of another classroom teacher who found that “10th,
11th, and 12th graders-even the sullen or quiet ones who never
raised their hands or took part in class discussions-were spilling
out their thoughts on an assignment both to him and their classmates”
when they were given the chance to do so on a blog. One of the
reasons for this interest is that blogs are like an interactive
conversation., one that gives empowerment to the student by
allowing him or her to be heard and seen. Another benefit is
that of being heard beyond the classroom.
gives the benefit of allowing everyone in the class to have
a voice, not just the most outspoken students. This would imply
that using a blog would bring more equity to class discussions,
especially for students who are uncomfortable or shy in the
class. Very often, the special needs student is reluctant to
participate, however blogging would help level the playing field
for students who can take the time to formulate their ideas
before they share them on the blog. She notes that educators
have found that students become interested enough to continue
to blog from their homes.
talks about how the quality of writing is improved due to the
fact that a blog is more public. Students will expend more effort
on writing style, spelling and grammar when they know that others
can see their work. She also makes a point of including the
opinion of another educator who believes that blogging should
complement classroom conversation so that students experience
both ways to communication. This side benefit also has cross-curricular
implications where good writing is a requirement in English,
history and other courses.
Fisher (2006), set out to analyze why blogging is so popular
among adolescents in order to capitalize on their motivation.
The authors theorize that blogging supports the need for relatedness,
which is “ satisfied when people have relationships in
which they can share their thoughts and feelings.” In
addition, growth needs are satisfied when people are able to
use their current capabilities as well as develop new talents.”
Since blogs are about people’s thoughts on a given topic,
this allows them to express their feelings. When people comment
on their entries, they know others are relating to what they
have said. Growth is also achieved through blogging as there
is the learning of new technology and growth as a writer.
the blogs of a number of teenagers and posted questions to them
asking about why they blogged. A common thread was that is a
form of release of their feelings, even if they don’t
get comments on their posting. In other words, they do it for
themselves, as opposed to the public, although they do appreciate
when people leave supportive comments. Another reason that they
give is to connect with friends. One teen suggested to the authors
that classroom blogging should encourage students to write personal
feelings and relate them to classwork work.
note that blogging provides students with an audience and allows
them to “make their mark upon the world, and leave their
footprints on the sand of the Internet.” It also allows
them to grow as writers and users of technology. It can also
act as a diary, as their posts are archived on the blog, allowing
them to revisit what they’ve written at a later date.
Read and Fisher build on the students’ desire for social
connection when integrating blogging into studies. They have
found that students are more motivated by student feedback than
marks and are more careful about what they write. They are also
more motivated when topics are self-chosen, however if a certain
topic is required, teachers can give students the choice about
what form their work will take and how it will look.
traditionally shorter and writing style less formal than other
forms of written course work. This encourages students to write
more often and spend less time on mechanics and more on expressing
feelings. This can be an advantage for students who have learning
difficulties, as they are able to worry less about style and
concentrate on their ideas
November (2001), doesn’t specifically mention Web 2.0
in his book (as it was written in 2001) however he senses the
advent of the way technology would be changing the classroom.
He mentions several ways in which students feel empowered by
technology. One way is that students enjoy the anonymity of
the internet and feel that they have the freedom to express
themselves more freely. He also mentions, as did Red and Fisher,
that on-line activities give students “time to respond,
so they can be more thoughtful in their answers.” He also
notes that it hard to exclude a student when everyone is on-line,
especially when students have the opportunity to post comments.
November also says that on-line learning can improve social
relationships through collaborative work and allow everyone
to express their feelings. He also sees the benefit of improved
parent involvement, when parents can see what work is being
is not just about blogs and wikis. Richardson (2006) shares
his ideas about The Social Web and its power to reshape learning.
“The collaborative construction of knowledge by those
willing to contribute is redefining the ways we think about
teaching and learning at every level.” Richardson says
that working collaboratively allows a class to find connections
and take shared responsibility for learning in a way not experienced
in a traditional classroom. He acknowledges the uses of blogs
and wikis as ways to create content and construct meaning, however
Richardson also praises the value of social web tools “that
focus primarily on creating connections rather than creating
example is social bookmarking, with which users are “participating
in the creation of a new way of organizing information.”
Through a collaboration of those using the sites, new tagging
systems are being created. Richardson expresses that the user-generated
system of classification, termed folksonomy, has the potential
to lead to more and better information. He says that the emphasis
in education will change from keeping track of where research
is located to knowing how to retrieve it. A strong benefit of
using social networks such as social bookmarking is that it
allows people to benefit from the work of others to help in
their own learning. Reading and absorbing Richardson’s
enthusiasm for social bookmarking and tagging, I realized the
wide range of possibilities for Web 2.0 tools in education.
There also seems to be an added benefit of helping students
organize their thinking by using these tools.
problems with Web 2.0 Tools
benefit of a literature review is learning the pitfalls or problems
that others have experienced. James (2004) shares her experience
in attempted to use a wiki for enriching her curriculum and
her disappointed with the outcome. She reflected that the tool
is not as important as how you use it. She wrote in her blog
that “a wiki does not have any inherent properties that
will instantly make a knowledge-building community. It depends
not only on the software configuration-- for example whether
certain areas are locked or whether you make templates for layout—but
also on the social norms and practices around the wiki. In a
classroom setting, this means the practice of the teacher, and
the interactions of the students”. (James, 2007)
(2007), speaks about other potential problems with Web 2.0 tools.
The first problem and most serious is about student safety on
the internet. She acknowledges that many students know how to
get around blocked sites and feels that they should be educated
in responsible internet use. Another concern is the possibility
of vandalism on blogs and wikis and to ensure that passwords
and permissions are used effectively. She is also concerned
with copyright issues and suggests that students use free, collaborative
sites such as Commons for images and music.
adds an additional concern about students revealing personal
information. She quotes educator and blogger Will Richardson
who advocates the use of first names or initials, instead of
using numbers, as there is less ownership for students when
they are identified by numbers.
review supports my belief that students are likely to be motivated
by Web 2.0 tools. I read some excellent advice on ways to implement
the tools in my grade 11 art room. As well, I will heed the
advice of those more experienced in blog and wiki use and take
into account safety and ethical considerations when planning
the literature also encouraged me to use the tools to differentiate
my instruction and assessment, as many students, including those
with learning differences, can be accommodated through the use
of the tools.